Are you a buyer agent, Buyer’s agent, buyers broker or even a Buyers Advocate? Then this series is here to help you better understand how to properly refer to yourself on a business card, your website, in your email signature and in other communications.
This is the second post in a three part series. Our previous piece shed light on the confusing topic of precisely how to write buyer’s agent and pluralise the profession. Here, we cover some of the grey areas that can influence how we ultimately use these terms throughout written communications.
Recap: how do I write it again?
You are a buyer’s agent. An agent who is owned by your clients, the buyers. When referring to a group of buyers’ agents, the apostrophe is placed after the s in buyers because there is more than one buyer owning multiple agents.
Style: to capitalise or not to capitalise?
And other ways to make my writing clear.
When it comes to communicating clearly, grammatical correctness is not the end of the matter. The English language constantly evolves; sometimes through an active effort by lexicographers to simplify and clarify words and their use or in other cases words are adopted or become obsolete based purely on their popularity at a certain point in time.
As bemoaned by UK government minister Alan Duncan last year certain sectors and professions have become notorious for meaningless jargon. His point: that plain speaking and writing makes it easier for readers to engage with your content.
Recently there has been a trend in the business community towards more clear and easy to follow language. From traditional publishing houses to large corporates, one result of the effort to reduce stuffiness is that the use of apostrophes is being streamlined – a notable example is the disposal of all apostrophes in relation to the word it’s by PwC in Australia.
These developments mean that the way we write is heading towards improved cognitive fluency and audience engagement, subsequently providing more appealing and meaningful content for readers.
What we do with our apostrophes
(Skip over the next sentence or two if you don’t want to get too technical.) A popular change in the use of apostrophes is the move by some organisations to placing an apostrophe after plural possessive nouns only in cases where the meaning would otherwise be unclear. In the example of buyer’s agents, what is being referred to (the service of assisting a client with purchasing a property) is not made clearer by moving the apostrophe to it’s traditional position after the s. This is the reason that we made the decision to employ only buyer’s agent (singular) and buyer’s agents (plural; possessive plural) on the BAG site. It is both easier for our readers to process and more likely to be applied consistently by our writers.
Agents need not follow this same rule, but should be explicit about their preferred way to refer to the profession and communicate this to staff internally.
Why we don’t like capital letters
Studies have shown that reader comprehension increases dramatically when text is presented in standard sentence case (capital letters for the first word and proper nouns only). For this reason, as well as technical correctness, we do not capitalise the first b or a in buyer’s agent here at BAG – a profession is not a proper noun. It’s also why you may have noticed that titles and headings on our site are expressed in sentence case only, with emphasis added by using bold or italic fonts.
Consistency: the golden goose
Whether you make your choices based on grammar, style or a combination of the two, the greatest favour you can do for readers is to be consistent. Once you decide the combination of rules you want to implement, have someone review your website and marketing materials to ensure they are applied uniformly – we are currently in the middle of this process ourselves. You could also run a 20 minute session for your team to help them understand the benefits of clear written communication.
Whatever your role in the real estate industry we encourage you to start improving your communications and become a confusion buster today!
Our final post in this series will discuss whether buyer’s agents should stick to this title or consider some of the other available options such as buyer’s advocate. We’d love to hear your opinion on this so leave a comment below or drop us an email if you have one!